bims-tremyl Biomed News
on Therapy resistance biology in myeloid leukemia
Issue of 2021‒04‒18
twenty-nine papers selected by
Paolo Gallipoli
Barts Cancer Institute, Queen Mary University of London

  1. Blood Cancer Discov. 2021 Mar;2(2): 162-185
      MYC oncoproteins regulate transcription of genes directing cell proliferation, metabolism and tumorigenesis. A variety of alterations drive MYC expression in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and enforced MYC expression in hematopoietic progenitors is sufficient to induce AML. Here we report that AML and myeloid progenitor cell growth and survival rely on MYC-directed suppression of Transcription Factor EB (TFEB), a master regulator of the autophagy-lysosome pathway. Notably, although originally identified as an oncogene, TFEB functions as a tumor suppressor in AML, where it provokes AML cell differentiation and death. These responses reflect TFEB control of myeloid epigenetic programs, by inducing expression of isocitrate dehydrogenase-1 (IDH1) and IDH2, resulting in global hydroxylation of 5-methycytosine. Finally, activating the TFEB-IDH1/IDH2-TET2 axis is revealed as a targetable vulnerability in AML. Thus, epigenetic control by a MYC-TFEB circuit dictates myeloid cell fate and is essential for maintenance of AML.
  2. Expert Opin Drug Saf. 2021 Apr 14. 1-9
      INTRODUCTION: FLT3 inhibitors are important drugs in the therapy of FLT3 positive acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Midostaurin was registered in combination with chemotherapy to treat newly diagnosed AML. Gilteritinib and quizartinib demonstrate effectiveness in a randomized trial in relapsed/refractory AML. Several promising FLT3 inhibitors are being evaluated in clinical research.AREAS COVERED: This review will report the safety of FLT3 inhibitors that are registered for acute myeloid leukemia induction and rescue therapy.
    EXPERT OPINION: In the near future, it is possible that all the FLT3 positive non M3-AML patients will receive a FLT3 inhibitor. Therapy adherence and strategies to mitigate adverse events must be pursued. The treatment with FLT3 inhibitors may be optimized in terms of toxicities with a rational evaluation of antifungal prophylaxis and concomitant therapy, cardiology monitoring, and keeping in mind rare adverse events. Future studies on unfit patients, special populations, and maintenance settings are warranted, together with post-market studies and real-life experiences. Whenever new FLT3 inhibitors will come to the clinic, we could face a scenario in which profound knowledge of effectiveness, toxicities, and off-target effects will be relevant to choose the best drug for each patient.
    Keywords:  Acute myeloid leukemia (AML); flt3; gilteritinib; midostaurin; quizartinib; safety; tyrosine kinase inhibitor
  3. Haematologica. 2021 Apr 15.
      Dysregulation of apoptotic machinery is one mechanism by which acute myeloid leukemia (AML) acquires a clonal survival advantage. B-cell lymphoma protein-2 (BCL2) overexpression is a common feature in hematologic malignancies. The selective BCL2 inhibitor, venetoclax (VEN) is used in combination with azacitidine (AZA), a DNA-methyltransferase inhibitor (DNMTi), to treat patients with AML. Despite promising response rates to VEN/AZA, resistance to the agent is common. One identified mechanism of resistance is the upregulation of myeloid cell leukemia-1 protein (MCL1). Pevonedistat (PEV), a novel agent that inhibits NEDD8-activating enzyme, and AZA both upregulate NOXA (PMAIP1), a BCL2 family protein that competes with effector molecules at the BH3 binding site of MCL1. We demonstrate that PEV/AZA combination induces NOXA to a greater degree than either PEV or AZA alone, which enhances VEN-mediated apoptosis. Herein, using AML cell lines and primary AML patient samples ex vivo, including in cells with genetic alterations linked to treatment resistance, we demonstrate robust activity of the PEV/VEN/AZA triplet. These findings were corroborated in preclinical systemic engrafted models of AML. Collectively, these results provide preclinical rational for combining PEV/VEN/AZA as a novel therapeutic approach in overcoming AML resistance current therapies.
  4. Clin Epigenetics. 2021 Apr 12. 13(1): 77
      BACKGROUND: Mutations in the EZH2 gene are recurrently found in patients with myeloid neoplasms and are associated with a poor prognosis. We aimed to characterize genetic and epigenetic alterations of EZH2 in 58 patients (51 with acute myeloid leukemia and 7 with myelodysplastic or myeloproliferative neoplasms) by integrating data on EZH2 mutational status, co-occurring mutations, and EZH2 copy number status with EZH2 protein expression, histone H3K27 trimethylation, and EZH2 promoter methylation.RESULTS: EZH2 was mutated in 6/51 acute myeloid leukemia patients (12%) and 7/7 patients with other myeloid neoplasms. EZH2 mutations were not overrepresented in patients with chromosome 7q deletions or losses. In acute myeloid leukemia patients, EZH2 mutations frequently co-occurred with CEBPA (67%), ASXL1 (50%), TET2 and RAD21 mutations (33% each). In EZH2-mutated patients with myelodysplastic or myeloproliferative neoplasms, the most common co-mutations were in ASXL1 (100%), NRAS, RUNX1, and STAG2 (29% each). EZH2 mutations were associated with a significant decrease in EZH2 expression (p = 0.0002), which was similar in patients with chromosome 7 aberrations and patients with intact chromosome 7. An association between EZH2 protein expression and H3K27 trimethylation was observed in EZH2-unmutated patients (R2 = 0.2, p = 0.01). The monoallelic state of EZH2 was not associated with EZH2 promoter hypermethylation. In multivariable analyses, EZH2 mutations were associated with a trend towards an increased risk of death (hazard ratio 2.51 [95% confidence interval 0.87-7.25], p = 0.09); similarly, low EZH2 expression was associated with elevated risk (hazard ratio 2.54 [95% confidence interval 1.07-6.04], p = 0.04).
    CONCLUSIONS: Perturbations of EZH2 activity in AML/MDS occur on different, genetic and non-genetic levels. Both low EZH2 protein expression and, by trend, EZH2 gene mutations predicted inferior overall survival of AML patients receiving standard chemotherapy.
    Keywords:  Acute myeloid leukemia; EZH2; H3K27 trimethylation; Mutations; Promoter methylation; Protein expression; Survival
  5. Haematologica. 2021 Apr 15.
      FMS-like tyrosine kinase 3-internal tandem duplication (FLT3-ITD) mutation in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is associated with poor prognosis. We hypothesized that quizartinib, a selective and potent FLT3 inhibitor, with azacitidine (AZA) or low-dose cytarabine (LDAC) might improve the outcomes in patients with FLT3-ITD-mutated AML. In this open-label phase I/II trial, patients of any age receiving first-salvage treatment for FLT3-ITD AML or age >60 years with untreated myelodysplastic syndrome or AML were treated with quizartinib plus AZA or LDAC. Seventy-three patients were treated (34 frontline, 39 first-salvage). Among previously untreated patients, composite response (CRc) was achieved in 13/15 (87%, 8 CR, 4 Cri, 1 CRp) treated with quizartinib/AZA and 14/19 (74%, 1 CR, 8 CRi, 5 CRp) in quizartinib/LDAC. The median OS was 19.2 months for quizartinib/AZA and 8.5 months for quizartinib/LDAC cohort; RFS was 10.5 and 6.4 months, respectively. Among previously treated patients, 16 (64%) achieved CRc in quizartinib/AZA and 4 (29%) in quizartinib/LDAC. The median OS for patients treated with quizartinib/AZA and quizartinib/LDAC was 12.8 vs. 4 months, respectively. QTc prolongation grade 3 occurred in only 1 patient in each cohort. Quizartinib-based combinations, particularly with AZA, appear effective in both frontline and first-salvage for patients with FLT3-ITD-mutated AML and are well tolerated.
  6. Leuk Res. 2021 Mar 29. pii: S0145-2126(21)00069-2. [Epub ahead of print]105 106568
      INTRODUCTION: Despite advances in the treatment of acute myeloid leukemia (AML), cytotoxic chemotherapy remains the standard induction regimen.PATIENTS AND METHODS: In this single center retrospective study, we assessed outcomes of 99 consecutive adult AML patients treated with a risk-adapted strategy with a median follow-up of 35.5 months.
    RESULTS: We identified 24 (24 %), 55 (56 %) and 20 (20 %) patients classified as favorable-, intermediate-, and adverse- risk group respectively, according to the European LeukemiaNet (ELN) 2017 classification. Patients either received idarubicin and cytarabine induction chemotherapy with or without FLT3 inhibitors or hypomethylating agents based on age and comorbidity. The complete response (CR) rate was 76 % (82 % and 61 % in patients aged < 60 and ≥ 60, respectively). For the whole cohort, the 3-year overall survival (OS) was 53 %, being 62 % and 30 % in patients aged < 60 and ≥ 60, respectively. The 3-year leukemia-free survival (LFS) was 54 %, with 56 % and 45 % in patients aged < 60 and ≥ 60, respectively. The 3-year LFS were 58 %, 62 % and 25 % for patients within ELN favorable-, intermediate-, and adverse-risk groups respectively. Twenty-seven (36 %) out of 75 patients with intermediate- and adverse-risk disease underwent allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (allo-HCT) in first CR with 92 % of them receiving post-transplant maintenance consisting of azacitidine in 19 (76 %) patients or sorafenib in 6 (24 %) patients. Of these patients younger than 60 years, the 3-year OS and LFS were 85 % and 69 %, respectively.
    CONCLUSION: These results indicate an improved OS for AML patients especially in intermediate-risk category who were treated with a total therapy consisting of induction chemotherapy followed by allo-HCT and post-transplant maintenance.
    Keywords:  AML; ELN classification; Induction chemotherapy; Post-transplant maintenance; Transplant
  7. Front Oncol. 2021 ;11 654817
      Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is an aggressive heterogeneous blood cancer derived from hematopoietic stem cells. Tumor-stromal interactions in AML are of importance for disease development and therapy resistance, and bone marrow stroma seem like an attractive therapeutic target. Of particular interest is colony stimulating factor 1 receptor (CSF1R, M-CSFR, c-FMS, CD115) and its role in regulating plasticity of tumor-associated macrophages. We discuss first the potential of CSF1R-targeted therapy as an attractive concept with regards to the tumor microenvironment in the bone marrow niche. A second therapy approach, supported by preclinical research, also suggests that CSF1R-targeted therapy may increase the beneficial effect of conventional and novel therapeutics. Experimental evidence positioning inhibitors of CSF1R as treatment should, together with data from preclinical and early phase clinical trials, facilitate translation and clinical development of CSF1R-targeted therapy for AML.
    Keywords:  acute myeloid leukemia; biomarkers; colony stimulating factor 1 receptor; signal transduction; targeted therapy; therapy development; tumor-stroma
  8. Am J Hematol. 2021 Apr 12.
      Venetoclax (Ven) combined with a hypomethylating agent (HMA) has now emerged as an effective treatment regimen for acute myeloid leukemia, in both de novo and relapsed/refractory setting. The current multicenter study retrospectively examined Ven+HMA treatment outcome among 32 patients (median age 69 years; 59% males) with blast-phase myeloproliferative neoplasm (MPN-BP). Pre-leukemic phenotype included essential thrombocythemia (ET)/post-ET myelofibrosis (34%), polycythemia vera (PV)/post-PV myelofibrosis (38%) and primary myelofibrosis (28%). Twenty-nine study patients were fully annotated cytogenetically and molecularly (NGS): 69% harbored complex karyotype and/or mutations, including TP53 (41%), IDH1/2 (21%), ASXL1 (21%), N/KRAS (14%), SRSF2 (10%), EZH2 (10%) and U2AF1 (7%). All patients received Ven combined with either azacitidine (n=12) or decitabine (n=20); either upfront (n=23) or after failing another induction therapy (n=9). Complete remission with (CR) or without (CRi) count recovery was achieved in 14 (44%) patients and was more likely to occur in the absence of pre-leukemic PV/post-PV myelofibrosis phenotype (p<0.01), complex karyotype (p<0.01) or K/NRAS (p=0.03) mutations; 7 of 8 patients (88%) without vs 4 of 21 (19%) with complex karyotype or K/NRAS mutation achieved CR/CRi (p<0.01); all 11 informative patients with pre-leukemic PV/post-PV myelofibrosis phenotype displayed complex karyotype (p<0.01). In contrast, neither TP53 (p=0.45) nor IDH1/2 (p=0.63) mutations affected response. Compared to historical controls treated with HMA alone (n=26), the CR/CRi rate (44% vs 4%) and median survival (8 vs 5.5 months) were more favorable with Ven+HMA, but without significant difference in overall survival. Importantly, 6 patients with CR/CRi subsequently received allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplant (AHSCT). Ven+HMA produces robust CR/CRi rates in MPN-BP, especially in the absence of RAS mutations and complex karyotype, thus enabling AHSCT, in some patients. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
    Keywords:  Hypomethylating; JAK2; Myelofibrosis; Polycythemia; Thrombocythemia
  9. Front Cell Dev Biol. 2021 ;9 634044
      The crosstalk between hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells (HSC), both normal and leukemic, and their neighboring bone marrow (BM) microenvironment (niche) creates a reciprocal dependency, a master regulator of biological process, and chemotherapy resistance. In acute myeloid leukemia (AML), leukemic stem/progenitor cells (LSC) anchored in the protective BM microenvironment, reprogram and transform this niche into a leukemia-supporting and chemoprotective environment. One most important player involved in this crosstalk are CXCL12, produced by the BM mesenchymal stromal cells, and its receptor CXCR4, present onto HSC. The downstream molecular mechanisms involved in CXCL12/CXCR4 axis have many targets, including the Src family members of non-receptor tyrosine kinase (SFK). We herein study the role of one SFK member, the Hematopoietic Cell Kinase (HCK), in CXCL12/CXCR4 pathway and its contribution to the AML pathogenesis. We verified that the inhibition of HCK severely impaired CXCL12-induced migration of leukemic cell lines and CD34 positive cells from AML patients bone marrow, through a disruption of the activation of CXCL12/CXCR4/PI3K/AKT and CXCL12/CXCR4/MAPK/ERK signaling, and by a decreased cytoskeleton dynamic through a lower rate of actin polymerization. We provide new insights into the key role of HCK in conferring a migratory advantage to leukemic cells thought CXCL12/CXCR4 axis. HCK represents an important protein of the main pathway involved in the crosstalk between HSC, and their surrounding milieu. Thus, HCK inhibition could represent a novel approach for the treatment of the acute myeloid leukemia.
    Keywords:  CXCL12/CXCR4 axis; PI3K/MAPK pathway; acute myeloid leukemia; bone marrow—pathology; cancer therapeutic target; crosstalk; hematopoietic cell kinase
  10. Front Oncol. 2021 ;11 659720
      Differentiation therapy with all-trans-retinoic acid (ATRA) in acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL), a subtype of acute myeloid leukemia (AML), has been extremely successful in inducing clinical remission in APL patients. However, the differentiation therapy of ATRA-based treatment has not been effective in other subtypes of AML. In this study, we evaluated a small molecule of ent-kaurene diterpenoid, Jiyuan oridonin A (JOA), on the differentiation blockade in AML cells with the mixed lineage leukemia (MLL) gene rearrangements (MLLr) in MV4-11, MOLM-13 and THP-1 cells. We found that JOA could significantly inhibit the proliferation of MOLM-13, MV4-11 and THP-1 cells. Moreover, JOA promoted cell differentiation coupled with cell-cycle exit at G0/G1 and inhibited the colony- forming capacity of these cells. We showed that the anti-proliferative effect of JOA attributed to cell differentiation is most likely through the martens tretinoin response up pathway in the MOLM-13 cell line, and the hematopoietic cell lineage pathway by the inhibition of c-KIT expression and cell adhesion pathway in the THP-1 cell line. Our findings suggest that JOA could be a novel therapeutic agent against human MLLr acute myeloid leukemia.
    Keywords:  Jiyuan oridonin A; acute myeloid leukemia with MLL gene rearrangements; cell adhesion pathway; differentiation therapy; hematopoietic cell lineage pathway; martens tretinoin response up pathway
  11. Transplant Cell Ther. 2021 Feb 25. pii: S2666-6367(21)00715-6. [Epub ahead of print]
      Disease relapse after hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT) is a major cause of treatment failure for patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Maintenance therapy after HCT for patients with targetable mutations such as mutated IDH1 or IDH2 may improve outcomes, and clinical trials evaluating this strategy are ongoing. However, clinical outcomes of IDH1- and IDH2-mutated AML patients after HCT have not been well described. The primary objective of this study was to describe the clinical characteristics and post-HCT outcomes of IDH-mutated AML patients. Survival outcomes included progression-free survival (PFS), overall survival, and cumulative incidences of relapse and nonrelapse mortality. In this multicenter retrospective analysis, 112 adult patients with IDH1- or IDH2-mutated AML who underwent HCT and did not receive an IDH inhibitor as maintenance therapy after HCT were identified at Massachusetts General Hospital, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, and Ohio State University. Mutation testing was performed using next-generation sequencing panels. Patient characteristics were collected retrospectively, and their survival outcomes were analyzed. Univariate and multivariate analyses were performed. The median patient age was 64.1 years. The median follow-up was 27.5 months. Among patients, 78.5% had intermediate- or adverse-risk disease by European LeukemiaNET criteria. Fifty-eight percent of patients received intensive induction chemotherapy, 82% of patients underwent HCT during first complete remission (CR) or CR with incomplete hematologic recovery (CRi), and 34% of patients received myeloablative conditioning. Frequently detected co-mutations were DNMT3A (35.7%), NPM1 (33.1%), and FLT3-ITD (13.4%); TP53 mutations were detected in 3.6% of patients. For IDH1-mutated patients transplanted during first CR/CRi, the 1- and 2-year PFS was 75% and 58%, respectively. For IDH2-mutated patients transplanted in first CR/CRi, the 1- and 2-year PFS was 64% and 58%, respectively. The 2-year cumulative incidence of relapse was 31% and 25% for IDH1- and IDH2-mutated cohorts, respectively. Multivariable analysis suggested first CR/CRi and age ≤60 was associated with improved outcomes for IDH2-mutated patients. To date, this is the largest multicenter study of outcomes of IDH-mutated AML patients after HCT. Our analysis provides important benchmarks for analysis and interpretation of results emerging from clinical trials evaluating maintenance IDH1 and IDH2 inhibitor therapy for AML patients after HCT.
    Keywords:  Acute myeloid leukemia; Hematopoietic cell transplantation; IDH1; IDH2; Maintenance therapy; Targeted therapy
  12. Blood Adv. 2021 Apr 13. 5(7): 2003-2011
      Donor KIR and recipient HLA combinations that minimize inhibition and favor activation of the NK repertoire are associated with improved outcomes after allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT) in patients with myeloid neoplasia. We prospectively evaluated a weighted donor ranking algorithm designed to prioritize HLA-compatible unrelated donors (URDs) with weak inhibitory KIR3DL1/HLA-Bw4 interaction, followed by donors with nontolerized activating KIR2DS1, and finally those with KIR centromeric B haplotype. During donor evaluation, we performed KIR genotyping and ranked 2079 URDs for 527 subjects with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) or acute myelogenous leukemia (AML). Among all patients, 394 (75%) had at least 1 KIR-advantageous donor, and 263 (50%) underwent HCT. In patients with AML, KIR3DL1 weak inhibition provided protection from relapse. Compared with KIR3DL1-Weak Inhibiting donors, KIR3DL1-Noninteracting donors were associated with increased risk of relapse (HR, 2.97; 95% CI, 1.33-6.64; P = .008) and inferior event-free survival (EFS; HR, 2.14; 95% CI, 1.16-3.95; P = .015). KIR3DL1-Strong Inhibiting donors were associated with HR, 1.65 (95% CI, 0.66-4.08; P = .25) for AML relapse and HR, 1.6 (95% CI, 0.81-3.17; P = .1) for EFS when compared with the use of KIR3DL1-weak inhibiting donors. Donor KIR2DS1/HLA-C1 status and centromeric KIR haplotype-B content were not associated with decreased risk of AML relapse. There was no benefit to KIR-based donor selection in patients with MDS. This study demonstrates that donor KIR typing is feasible, and prioritization of donors with certain KIR3DL1 genotypes may confer a protection from relapse after HCT in patients with AML.
  13. Expert Rev Anticancer Ther. 2021 Apr 14.
      INTRODUCTION: Intravenous and subcutaneous hypomethylating agents have held a key role in myelodysplastic syndrome, chronic myelomonocytic leukemia and acute myeloid leukemia treatment. Following the approval of the cedazuridine/decitabine combination, ASTX727, as well as development of an oral formulation of azacitidine, CC-486, in the USA in 2020, these agents could gradually replace their injectable counterparts.AREAS COVERED: ASTX727 is approved for the treatment of adult patients with intermediate 1 or high risk MDS as well as those with chronic myelomonocytic leukemia based on the findings from the ASTX727-01-B and ASCERTAIN trials. Oral azacitidine (CC-486) is approved for maintenance treatment of acute myeloid leukemia after induction chemotherapy for patients unfit for allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplant based on the findings from the QUAZAR AML-001 trial.
    EXPERT OPINION: Oral hypomethylating agent formulations have the potential to offer a convenient alternative to, and potentially completely over time replace, injectable hypomethylating agent. However, their FDA-approved indications at this point are narrow and efficacy needs to be shown in clinical trials before considering use beyond the approved indications. Areas of special interest include; identification of predictive biomarkers for clinical benefit, post-transplant maintenance therapy, and potential combination therapies with other oral agents such as venetoclax, IDH and FLT3 inhibitors.
    Keywords:  azacitidine; cedazuridine; decitabine; oral hypomethylating agent
  14. Cancer Lett. 2021 Apr 13. pii: S0304-3835(21)00157-9. [Epub ahead of print]
      There has been an increasing focus on the tumorigenic potential of leukemia initiating cells (LICs) in acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Despite the important role of selective autophagy in the life-long maintenance of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs), cancer progression, and chemoresistance, the relationship between LICs and selective autophagy remains to be fully elucidated. Sequestosome 1 (SQSTM1), also known as p62, is a selective autophagy receptor for the degradation of ubiquitinated substrates, and its loss impairs leukemia progression in AML mouse models. In this study, we evaluated the underlying mechanisms of mitophagy in the survival of LICs with XRK3F2, a p62-ZZ inhibitor. We demonstrated that XRK3F2 selectively impaired LICs but spared normal HSCs in both mouse and patient-derived tumor xenograft (PDX) AML models. Mechanistically, we observed that XRK3F2 blocked mitophagy by inhibiting the binding of p62 with defective mitochondria. Our study not only evaluated the effectiveness and safety of XRK3F2 in LICs, but also demonstrated that mitophagy plays an indispensable role in the survival of LICs during AML development and progression, which can be impaired by blocking p62.
    Keywords:  AML; Autophagy; LICs; Small molecular compound
  15. Clin Transl Oncol. 2021 Apr 16.
      Chronic myelomonocytic leukemia (CMML) is a hematologic malignancy that overlaps with myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPN) and myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) and tends to transform into acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Among cases of CMML, > 90% have gene mutations, primarily involving TET2 (~ 60%), ASXL1 (~ 40%), SRSF2 (~ 50%), and the RAS pathways (~ 30%). These gene mutations are associated with both the clinical phenotypes and the prognosis of CMML, special CMML variants and pre-phases of CMML. Cytogenetic abnormalities and the size of genome are also associated with prognosis. Meanwhile, cases with ASXL1, DNMT3A, NRAS, SETBP1, CBL and RUNX1 mutations may have inferior prognoses, but only ASXL1 mutations were confirmed to be independent predictors of the patient outcome and were included in three prognostic models. Novel treatment targets related to the various gene mutations are emerging. Therefore, this review provides new insights to explore the correlations among gene mutations, clinical phenotypes, prognosis, and novel drugs in CMML.
    Keywords:  Chronic myelomonocytic leukemia; Gene mutations; Novel drugs; Prognosis
  16. Cell Stem Cell. 2021 Apr 07. pii: S1934-5909(21)00123-5. [Epub ahead of print]
      Decline in hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) function with age underlies limited health span of our blood and immune systems. In order to preserve health into older age, it is necessary to understand the nature and timing of initiating events that cause HSC aging. By performing a cross-sectional study in mice, we discover that hallmarks of aging in HSCs and hematopoiesis begin to accumulate by middle age and that the bone marrow (BM) microenvironment at middle age induces and is indispensable for hematopoietic aging. Using unbiased approaches, we find that decreased levels of the longevity-associated molecule IGF1 in the local middle-aged BM microenvironment are a factor causing HSC aging. Direct stimulation of middle-aged HSCs with IGF1 rescues molecular and functional hallmarks of aging, including restored mitochondrial activity. Thus, although decline in IGF1 supports longevity, our work indicates that this also compromises HSC function and limits hematopoietic health span.
    Keywords:  IGF1; aging; healthspan; hematopoiesis; hematopoietic stem cell; lineage bias; metabolism; microenvironment; middle age; niche
  17. Pediatr Blood Cancer. 2021 Apr 12. e28979
      Pediatric acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a heterogeneous disease that requires a multifaceted treatment approach. Although outcomes for low-risk AML have improved significantly over recent decades, high-risk AML continues to be associated with an adverse prognosis. Recent advances in molecular diagnostics, risk stratification, and supportive care have contributed to improvements in outcomes in pediatric AML. Targeted approaches, for example, the use of tyrosine kinase inhibitors to treat FLT3-ITD AML, offer promise and are currently undergoing clinical investigation in pediatric patients. New approaches to hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, including the use of haploidentical donors, are significantly expanding donor options for patients with high-risk AML. This review provides an overview of recent advances in the treatment of pediatric AML that are likely to have clinical impact and reshape the standard of care.
    Keywords:  HSCT; acute myeloid leukemia; childhood AML; pediatric AML
  18. Nat Genet. 2021 Apr 12.
      Most eukaryotes harbor two distinct pre-mRNA splicing machineries: the major spliceosome, which removes >99% of introns, and the minor spliceosome, which removes rare, evolutionarily conserved introns. Although hypothesized to serve important regulatory functions, physiologic roles of the minor spliceosome are not well understood. For example, the minor spliceosome component ZRSR2 is subject to recurrent, leukemia-associated mutations, yet functional connections among minor introns, hematopoiesis and cancers are unclear. Here, we identify that impaired minor intron excision via ZRSR2 loss enhances hematopoietic stem cell self-renewal. CRISPR screens mimicking nonsense-mediated decay of minor intron-containing mRNA species converged on LZTR1, a regulator of RAS-related GTPases. LZTR1 minor intron retention was also discovered in the RASopathy Noonan syndrome, due to intronic mutations disrupting splicing and diverse solid tumors. These data uncover minor intron recognition as a regulator of hematopoiesis, noncoding mutations within minor introns as potential cancer drivers and links among ZRSR2 mutations, LZTR1 regulation and leukemias.
  19. Ann Hematol. 2021 Apr 10.
      Several molecular aberrations affect the prognosis of patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) with excess blasts (EB). This study aimed to determine the incidence and clinical impact of molecular genetic aberrations in Thai patients with AML and MDS-EB, detected by the next-generation sequencing (NGS) technique. This prospective, observational study was conducted between 2018 and 2020 on newly diagnosed Thai AML or MDS-EB patients aged above 15 years. NGS was performed using a custom amplicon-based targeted enrichment assay for 42 genes recurrently mutated in myeloid neoplasms. The molecular results were correlated with baseline patient and disease characteristics as well as outcomes. Forty-nine patients were enrolled in this study. The median age was 56 years (interquartile range [IQR], 44-64), with nearly equal proportions of males and females. The median number of mutations was 3 (IQR, 2-4). The most frequent alterations were FLT3 internal tandem duplications (ITD) (28.6%), DNMT3A (24.5%), and WT1 (22.4%) mutations. FLT3-ITD was more frequent in the de novo AML group than in the MDS/secondary AML group, whereas in the MDS/secondary AML group, ASXL1, ETV6, and SRSF2 mutations were more frequent. Patients aged greater than 65 years and patients with mutated TP53 were more likely to have inferior overall survival from multivariate analysis. FLT3-ITD was the most common mutation among newly diagnosed Thai AML patients. TP53 mutation and advanced age were independent adverse factors for survival outcome. The genetic landscapes of AML patients vary between national populations. Thai Clinical Trials Registry identifier: TCTR20190227003.
    Keywords:  Acute myeloid leukemia; Genetic; Molecular; Next-generation sequencing; Thailand
  20. Hematology. 2021 Dec;26(1): 340-347
      Objective: To discover the function of allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (allo-HSCT) in ASXL1-mutated acute myeloid leukemia (AML) patients.Methods: We analyzed the prognostic value of ASXL1 mutations and explored the role of allo-HSCT in 581 AML patients.Results: According to the definition of intermediate- and adverse-risk AML groups in the European Leukemia Net (ELN), ASXL1-mutated patients had shorter OS and DFS than ASXL1-wild-type patients in the intermediate- and adverse-risk AML groups (3-year OS: 47.5% vs. 60.8%, P<0.001; 3-year DFS: 28.5% vs. 48.9%, P<0.001). Among the cytogenetically normal acute myeloid leukemia (CN-AML), differences were found in both OS (47.4% vs.65.2%, P<0.001) and DFS (21.0% vs. 52.1%, P<0.001) between ASXL1-mutated patients and ASXL1 wild-type patients.In the ASXL1-mutated AML cohort, the patients received allo-HSCT had longer 3-year OS (P=0.0005) and 3-year DFS (P<0.0001) than those who did not receive allo-HSCT. Multivariate analysis revealed that ASXL1 mutation was an independent prognostic factor for OS (HR 2.248, 95% CI 1.155-4.375, P=0.017), and allo-HSCT had a positive impact on OS (HR 7.568, 95% CI 3.597-15.92, P<0.001) and DFS (HR 2.611, 95% CI 1.688-4.039, P<0.001) in ASXL1-mutated patients.Conclusion: The results indicate that the presence of ASXL1 mutations is a factor predictive of poor prognosis in AML patients and allo-HSCT could improve the survival of AML patients with ASXL1 mutations.
    Keywords:  ASXL1 mutation; Acute myeloid leukemia; allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplant
  21. Exp Hematol Oncol. 2021 Apr 15. 10(1): 28
      BACKGROUND: The evasion of apoptosis through dysregulated Bcl-2 family members is a hallmark of leukaemia stem cells (LSCs) in acute myeloid leukaemia (AML). Therefore, targeting Bcl-2 with venetoclax has been suggested as an attractive strategy for inducing apoptosis in AML LSCs. However, the selective inhibition of Bcl-2 in AML often leads to upregulation of Mcl-1, another dominant anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 family protein conferring venetoclax resistance.METHODS: We assessed the combined effect of venetoclax and arsenic trioxide (ATO) on leukaemic cell viability, apoptosis, combination index, and cell cycle in the human LSC-like KG1 and KG1a cells. The synergistic effect of venetoclax and ATO on apoptosis was also examined in primary CD34+ and CD34+CD38- LSCs from the bone marrow (BM) of AML patients, and compared with those from healthy donors.
    RESULTS: Venetoclax efficiently impaired cell viability and dose-dependently promoted apoptosis when combined with ATO; their synergism was aptly represented by the combination index. The combination of venetoclax and ATO impaired cell cycle progression by restricting cells within the sub-G1 phase and facilitating caspase-dependent apoptotic cell death associated with the loss of mitochondrial membrane potential, while sparing healthy BM haematopoietic stem cells. Mechanistically, ATO mitigated venetoclax-induced upregulation of Mcl-1 by the inhibition of AKT and ERK, along with activation of GSK-3β. This led to the Mcl-1 destabilisation, triggering Noxa and Bim to facilitate apoptosis and the consequent activation of the apoptosis executioner protein Bak. Moreover, the combination promoted phosphorylation of ATM, Chk2, p38, and H2AX, indicating an active DNA damage response.
    CONCLUSIONS: Our findings demonstrate the synergistic, preferential antileukaemic effects of venetoclax and ATO on LSCs, providing a rationale for preclinical and clinical trials by combining these agents already being used in clinical practice to treat acute leukaemia.
    Keywords:  Acute myeloid leukaemia; Apoptosis; Arsenic trioxide; Venetoclax
  22. Br J Haematol. 2021 Apr 10.
      Optimal donor choice for a second allogeneic haematopoietic cell transplant (allo-HCT) in relapsed acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) remains unknown. We compared overall survival (OS) using registry data from the Acute Leukemia Working Party (ALWP) of the European Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation (EBMT) involving 455 adults who received a second allo-HCT from a human leucocyte antigen (HLA)-matched unrelated (MUD) (n = 320) or a haploidentical (n = 135) donor. Eligibility criteria required adults aged ≥18 years who received a second allo-HCT for treating AML relapse between 2005 and 2019. The primary end-point was OS. There was no statistically significant difference in the median (interquartile range) age between the groups, MUD 46 (35-58) versus haploidentical 44 (33-53) years (P = 0·07). The median OS was not different between the MUD and the haploidentical groups (10 vs. 11 months, P = 0·57). Similarly, the 2-year OS was 31% for the MUD and 29% for the haploidentical donor groups. The OS was worse if the procedure was performed with active AML [hazard ratio (HR) 1·42, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1·07-1·89; P = 0·02]. Conversely, a longer time from first allo-HCT to relapse (>13·2 months) was associated with better OS (HR 0·50, 95% CI 0·37-0·69; P < 0·0001). The results of the present analysis limit the ability to recommend one donor type over another when considering a second allo-HCT for relapsed AML. Our findings highlight that best OS is achieved when receiving the second allo-HCT in complete remission.
    Keywords:  acute myeloid leukaemia; relapse; second allogeneic haematopoietic cell transplant
  23. Front Oncol. 2021 ;11 657191
      Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) is a heterogeneous neoplasm characterized by cytogenetic and molecular alterations that drive patient prognosis. Currently established risk stratification guidelines show a moderate predictive accuracy, and newer tools that integrate multiple molecular variables have proven to provide better results. In this report, we aimed to create a new machine learning model of AML survival using gene expression data. We used gene expression data from two publicly available cohorts in order to create and validate a random forest predictor of survival, which we named ST-123. The most important variables in the model were age and the expression of KDM5B and LAPTM4B, two genes previously associated with the biology and prognostication of myeloid neoplasms. This classifier achieved high concordance indexes in the training and validation sets (0.7228 and 0.6988, respectively), and predictions were particularly accurate in patients at the highest risk of death. Additionally, ST-123 provided significant prognostic improvements in patients with high-risk mutations. Our results indicate that survival of patients with AML can be predicted to a great extent by applying machine learning tools to transcriptomic data, and that such predictions are particularly precise among patients with high-risk mutations.
    Keywords:  acute myeloid leukemia; cancer; gene expression; machine learning; prognosis; survival
  24. Hematology. 2021 Dec;26(1): 355-364
      OBJECTIVES: The primary objective was to compare the efficacy of intermediate-dose cytarabine (IDAC) and high-dose cytarabine (HiDAC) as consolidation chemotherapy for acute myeloid leukemia (AML) in terms of a one-year-relapse-free survival rate (RFS). The secondary objectives were one-year-overall survival rate (OS) and adverse effects.METHODS: This was a retrospective study conducted at Chiang Mai University Hospital. AML patients who achieved complete remission after 7 + 3 induction regimen and received consolidation therapy with either IDAC or HiDAC during January 2015 and January 2018 were eligible. Data about clinical characteristics, efficacy and safety of IDAC and HiDAC regimens were collected.
    RESULTS: Sixty-two AML patients were enrolled (30 patients in IDAC and 32 patients in the HiDAC regimen). The one-year RFS in the IDAC group was 63.33% and 46.87% in the HiDAC group (P = 0.137). The 1-year OS was 93.33% and 84.37% in the IDAC and HiDAC, respectively (P = 0.691). The duration of grade 3-4 thrombocytopenia was significantly shorter in IDAC than HiDAC (mean duration 14.69 vs. 23.84 days; P = 0.045). There was no significant difference in other parameters including hemoglobin nadir, absolute neutrophil count nadir, platelet nadir, febrile neutropenia, duration of grade 3-4 neutropenia, and duration of hospitalization.
    DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS: There was no significant difference in the one-year RFS and OS between IDAC and HiDAC. The IDAC regimen is an acceptable option for consolidation treatment in AML.
    Keywords:  Acute myeloid leukemia; Chiang-Mai University; consolidation therapy; high dose cytarabine; intermediate dose cytarabine; overall survival; relapse-free survival; thrombocytopenial
  25. Br J Haematol. 2021 Apr 11.
      Following the 2017 European LeukemiaNet (ELN) guidelines, we changed our practice from using high-dose cytarabine (HIDAC-3 g/m2 q12h-D1,3,5) to intermediate-dose cytarabine (IDAC-1·5 g/m2 q12h-D1,3,5/D1-3) for consolidation in young(<60 years) favourable-risk acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) patients. We assessed the clinical impact of this practice change. Of 80 patients, 51 received HIDAC prior to the protocol change, and subsequently, 29 received IDAC. The three-year risk of relapse was significantly higher with IDAC [61%; 95% confidence interval (CI) 40-82] compared with HIDAC (22%; 10-34), P < 0·01. Our findings suggest HIDAC, rather than IDAC, is the preferred dose for single-agent cytarabine consolidation in young, favourable-risk AML following 7+3 induction.
    Keywords:  acute leukaemia; chemotherapy; consolidation